We all admire the historical stories of Teacher disciple relationships. Then we come into Buddhism and are told that it is a big part of the path. We have no experience of this and its not a popular culture in our countries. Therefore we have very few people to talk to to compare notes. When things go wrong we are confused and start to wonder who is to blame?
We need to remember our lineage and where these trainings have come from. How were they practiced in the past. People recoil in terror when they hear the words- unquestioning obedience and trust- but our lineage Gurus did this. It doesnt work for modern people because we have no stamina and our teacher has no way of showing us clearly that he is fully qualified- therefore the students hold back and do not trust 100%. In history there was a great lineage of competitions and debates. Who was the most qualified would be established in a battle of wills almost. Budha Shakyamuni competed with other gurus in displays of miracle powers. Milarepa mocked those he met dissecting their beliefs with a song before exhorting them to follow correct paths. In many stories the teacher and disciple do a form of battle almost and when the teacher proves far superior the disciple requests instructions.
This is the real dilemma of the modern western world. How to establish who we can trust? Our teacher cannot display miracle powers or even claim to have good qualities. One answer could be the following. Milarepa showed his attainment not with beams of light from his body like the sun against fireflies like Buddha Shakyamuni. He showed that he could do things that other people couldnt. He could survive the elements and live without food. And he could express the correct meanings with more clarity and lucidity than other teachers. The less realised you are the slower you will express yourself because you will be formulating generic images first. Milarepas songs arose instantly.
Therefore we can decide who to trust by checking who can do what modern people always fail to do - live without fame, material possessions, sensory cravings. And who is expressing the holy Dharma clearly and confidently. Who is not afraid of losing their reputation and puts doing the right thing first, even if threatened with punishment or reprisals. Someone who is free of worldly concerns and worldly desires is the main evidence we can find. Another evidence is that their own root Guru displayed the same and that they attribute everything to their own teacher, not accepting any praise for themself but instead offering it. We cannot get incontravertible evidence in these modern times all we can get are strong signs. One idea for a test we could ask is this. If their own Guru came back from the grave in their old body would this teacher instantly offer all their disciples to him and cease to teach? Who is working to translate instructions Buddhas 84000 teachings into English and who is relaxing and socialising? Which is correct?
If Marpa and Rinchen Zangpo (who translated during Atishas life) had spent their life focusing on socialising where would we be today? Surely anyone who focuses mainly on social pastimes rather than translating if they know the two languages has a desire for companions and friends?
Anyway here is the example of battles of wills similar to ancient Buddhism where people enjoyed seeing who had the greater skill and who was right. if the links stop working try searching the titles.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o6tWx2p8sOk kung fu pandas cravings abated by his master. A perfect example of teacher and disciple, the control issue and resisting it
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A9yihZQgg0g establishing who is of greater skill - our lineage has similar. There are no tests of skill or level of attainment nowadays
Read the story of Milarepa training, Naropas training and then please offer comment